Sitecore 9 – Your steer for 2018

The Challenge

To increase your customer’s consistency of experience with your company’s products and services.

The Direction

  • Understanding where the opportunities lie for collecting data within your company.
  • Collecting the right type of data (securely) from your interaction points
  • Reaping knowledge from the data to increase consistency across platforms
  • Analysing and acting on feedback to respond quickly and constantly

The Actions

Let’s assume you know where people experience you and yours, typically: adverts, at the tills, trade fairs, award ceremonies, social media, ticket collection point, email, website, product download, newspapers, in the shops, in the press, in the aisles etc. It was the lack of integration between them that was a major challenge.

Get on Sitecore 9 in the cloud

We’ve gone past the tipping point of cloud hosting, so you really should get on it soon grandma, if not your speed to market and feedback loop will get even slower. Sitecore are pushing Azure hard and the benefits of the partnership with Microsoft are there to see, however you’re always free to use AWS, GCP or a private cloud. Whether you’re upgrading, lifting-and-shifting, starting afresh or a hybrid, look at cloud hosting.

Collect data using Sitecore

Sitecore Experience Management/Platform © ™ ® includes:
– Multi-site and Multi-language management
– Marketing Automation
– A/B & multi-variant testing
– Machine-learning based optimisation

Which all brings useful and usable data into Sitecore’s Experience Database (xDB) © ™ ®. If Sitecore’s own features and modules don’t do it then…

Plug everything else into Sitecore

Bring together your data sources into xDB;  ticketing systems, internal databases, Salesforce, Eloqua, payment providers, this API and that API and all website interactions. Headless Sitecore is a beautiful thing, it’s not just an expensive CMS, it’s a door opener. If you’ve got multiple CMSs, fine, use Sitecore’s Federated Experience Manager (FXM) to correlate data.

Use the Data Luke

Personalisation is one way but it’s not the only way. Please don’t just focus on making Barry from Cardiff feeling special on a Tuesday morning as the buys a can of Special Brew. He feels special enough already, and he won’t remember anyway.

Use the data to be relevant, valuable and and remember the Challenge you should be focussing on, to provide a consistent experience. Re-visit the high value areas where you’ve touched each other, was it good, was it as expected, was it consistent, would they want to do it again? Hopefully it’s a yes to all of those but you will only find out through…

Constantly reviewing and acting on feedback

Not at a quarterly where Sharon in sales says she’s heard that someone said popcorn prices are too high. Did that recommendation work? Yes/No -> act. You have the data, you have the knowledge so what’s it saying that needs to be acted upon and then act upon it quickly, then again, then again until it’s happening so regularly that you wish a computer could do it for you.
If you’re not improving then what’s the point?


Although I work on Sitecore and it’s technology remember it’s not the technology that’s the driver behind this, it’s the people. Always maintain the human element of interacting with the customer.

About me – I’m an Account Director at True Clarity where we focus on getting the most out of Sitecore for our clients, who include easyJet, Dyson, ASOS, the Conservative Party and Sophos. I’ve also just come back from the most excellent 2017 Sitecore Symposium where Sitecore 9 was launched.


Sitecore xDB Personalisation at the client

Nick Hills’ headed over to SUGCON last week to share his infinite wisdom with the rest of the Sitecore community, if you missed it or want a recap you can listen to his talk below:

This talk shows off techniques that allow you to combine two great tools: the personalisation capabilities and power of xDB along with the benefits of CDN edge-caching. Editors can configure and design personalisation rules as normal yet still harness all the power and gains that CDN’s offer.

He’s also handily put together a whitepaper weighing up the pros and cons of the various approaches –

Get in touch if you want to find out more on +44 (0)117 932 7700 or

Sitecore 8.1 – What you need to know from those who know best

The Sitecore experts (MVPs) were lucky enough to get their hands on XP 8.1 two months before it was publicly released in October 2015. The early access allows them to get a head start on mastering the new release and provide Sitecore with essential feedback for improvements and the roadmap. As part of this Sitecore have released a whitepaper on the MVP’s initial reactions to three questions:

  1. What’s your favorite feature of Sitecore XP 8.1, e.g., what part do you think businesses couldn’t live without?
  2. What in your opinion is the greatest benefit of Sitecore XP 8.1 for digital technologists and IT leaders?
  3. What in your opinion is the greatest benefit of Sitecore XP 8.1 for developers?

You can grab your copy here. We’re pretty p

Sitecore 8.1 Launch

With the launch of Sitecore 8.1 yesterday, our MVP’s have already been experimenting with the new features.

One of our MVP’s Mike Robbins has already been working with the new Sitecore SPEAK framework that launched with Sitecore 8.1. He has written a blog post documenting the changes in SPEAK 2.0 and how developers can create custom components to use with the new framework.

The blog post can be read here: 

Also the rich text editor that he built for Sitecore SPEAK 1.1 has been completely rewritten for SPEAK 2.0 and released on Sitcore 8.1 launch day.

The source code and package are available here.

Graduating in 2016?

We love hiring graduates!

We hire a lot and we’re getting pretty good at training them…

Over 50% of our company joined us straight out of Uni. This year we have had 7 graduates join us in Development, Test and Project Management. Some of the developers we hired as graduates 10 years ago are still with us , including two of the computer scientists we first met at Bristol University, who are now Sitecore MVPs (an award given to only 0.53% of the Sitecore certified ecosystem).

So why do we love grads?

What’s not to love – They are intelligent, motivated, on message with the latest trends and they are able to soak up the information and training we provide them with. We take a mentoring approach to graduate development. Working with more experienced guys on live projects they are given real world problems to solve in a supportive environment. What better way to learn your craft.

We are kicking off our Graduate recruitment for 2016 now with the following events:

  • Bristol University, ‘Engineering and IT careers fair’ – October 21st.
  • Birmingham University, ‘Software, system and emerging technology careers event’ – October 22nd.
  • Silicon Milkroundabout – Sunday 15th November (not just for grads – but we met some great graduates there at the last event).

Come and say hello to me (and some of the team). If you can’t make any of these events feel free to drop me a line for an initial conversation about the roles on 0117 932 7700 or alternatively send a copy of your CV to:

More events to follow……

True Clarity at the MVP Summit

Here at True Clarity we are lucky enough to have three MVPs… all Sitecore nerds! As you can imagine the chance to visit New Orleans and be part of the MVP Summit was one we all jumped at when True Clarity offered to fund the trip. A massive thank you to the company.

Over 90 out of 167 recognised MVPs attended the event, which is a whole host of Sitecore love and brain power in one room! The impressive turnout really does show the enthusiasm all the MVPs have for the platform.

I had high hopes for the event especially after seeing the agenda for the two days. The welcome drinks, canapés and chance to network with the other MVPs the night before the summit was excellent, but the real business started on Tuesday. We were lucky enough to see Sitecore’s vision of the future and the road map for the next year or so first-hand. This really is one of the main reasons I wanted to become an MVP, to get involved and engrossed with the future direction of Sitecore in some capacity. I was not let down.

Day 1

The Tuesday sessions kicked off with an introduction by Pieter Brinkman, a video containing some captivating music and a swarm of numbers showing the appreciation Sitecore has for its MVPs, which as you can imagine got us all buzzing. Did you know that the MVPs, (a group of just 0.53% of the Sitecore certified community) contribute to over 50% of blog Posts, presentations and Sitecore modules?

The real “Strap in, hold on, because this is where the technology is going” ride started with a great talk by Todd Mitchell on xDB vNext and Brandon Hubbard who shared (top secret) plans for Speak 2.0 something, which I really feel is going to be huge when it hits the masses.

We also heard some (again top secret) insights into the next couple of Sitecore releases by Kern and Stephen Pope. Some really exciting features in the pipeline, both for developers and end users to get excited about.

I was exhausted after all that but quickly reminded we had a swamp to tour, alligators to feed, cigars to smoke and moonshine to drink – It’s safe to say Sitecore can put on a party!

Day 2

The “I attended breakfast” achievement badge (MVPs love achievements it seems) never had so much significance as it did the morning after the swamps. Everyone still turned up, not wanting to miss the final day of the summit.

The real highlight of the summit for me was on day two. Fan favourites Kern and Stephen Pope were back for a talk on the future of the core of the platform. Following the common theme of ‘top secret – please do not share anything’, I’m going to stay vague but I was blown away with the plans Sitecore (and in particular Stephen and Kern) had for the future of the platform. The amount of time afforded to listen and discuss the MVPs opinions was also fantastic – I think by the end everyone in the room was on the same page and thinking “Wow this is going to be great… but let me have it now!”

Other highlights included the opportunity for us MVPs to have round table discussions with Sitecore staff about specific requirements or wishes we had for the platform. I think we managed to convince Stephen to include about two hundred ‘essential’ features into the next release (he did have his fingers crossed) but it’s great to see the platform moving in the direction it is following feedback from the MVPs – feedback Sitecore obviously value.

Being a MVP newbie myself (first year as an MVP) the summit completely convinced me (not that I really needed to be) that Sitecore continue to move in the right direction. These are exciting times for a number of different areas within the platform. The benefits to developers, marketers, content editors, well… literally every Sitecore user has the potential to be huge, and it was amazing to see and be involved in these plans first hand.

Thank you Sitecore!

Building Personalised Experiences with Sitecore

The Conservative Party is the current party of government in the United Kingdom, having won a majority of seats at the General Election in May. As part of their election efforts, we used Sitecore to build a personalised map that helped undecided voters understand how the party’s policies had helped secure a brighter future for people across the country. By entering their postcode, users could see exactly what that meant in their area.

We integrated various electorate information systems APIs to render the map information based on the content in Sitecore. The Conservative Party managed all of this content in Sitecore and placeholders were used to pull in the relevant numeric stats and personalised data. True Clarity knew that would be one of the first places undecided voters would go to find out about the Party’s policies in the days leading up to the election – and on polling day itself. Therefore, it was imperative that the site focused on helping people understand not just what those policies were but what they meant for them, their family and their area. This is a great example of how Sitecore can be used to enable personalised experiences for customers.
Map of Data for True Clarity’s London Office

View your own personalised area map here.